Monday, July 10, 2017

POEMS OF THE WEEK ~ The Poet in Political Times ~ Poems by Colleen, Annell and Laura

As these are topsy-turvy times, politically, I've noticed several poets, who normally are not very political, have been moved to write about their feelings. Since many of us feel the same way, I thought it might be timely to feature the following poems,  written by  Colleen Redman of Loose Leaf Notes, Annell Livingston of Some Things I Think About,  and Laura Bloomsbury of Tell Tale Therapy.  The poet often mirrors what is happening in society, as these examples illustrate so well.





THE FIRST 100 DAYS


In the first 100 days
I’ve read more than 100 stories
about corruption, collusion
incompetence and lies
I’ve tried to explain a president
who insults people to my grandsons
and played out thoughts of nuclear war
I’ve been heartbroken and rudely awakened
thinking about uninsured sick people dying
and the little North Korean refugee
who cried when she said, “armed with knives
we were prepared to kill ourselves
if we were going to be sent back”
In the first 100 days
I’ve looked up narcissism
fascism, white supremacy and dark money
I’ve gone to bed unnerved
and woke up feeling dirty
I’ve signed petitions
shared information
and haven’t been able to forget
“grab them by the pussy”
“beat the crap out of them
I’ll pay your legal fees”
For at least 100 days
I’ve been drowning in a swamp
a snake oil con of billionaires
burning bridges and rattling sabers
while trying to convince me
the world is flat
I’ve mourned the disregard of facts
of common sense and science
I’ve felt threatened, held hostage and robbed
watching corporate give-aways
and environmental protections signed away
like broken treaties
like blankets spreading small pox
I’ve watched the nightly news
for signs that it will stop
And for every one of those 100 days
I’ve said “This is not okay”


Sherry: I have said the same thing, Colleen. My heart is sickened at what is happening. I never thought I would see such things in North America. I truly thought democracy meant that this could never happen here. That there are checks and balances to prevent just such a thing. They don't seem to be working.

Colleen: I wrote The First 100 Days during the hype over Trump’s first 100 days in office.  I wanted to turn the notion of reviewing his first 100 days around to document the toll his presidency has had on me as an American citizen, and I know I am not alone.  I was tired of writing commentary and sharing information on Facebook about his alienating our allies and denigrating U.S. journalists, his conflicts of interests, his appointees who want to dismantle the agencies they head and his lifting environmental protections (Did you know that mining companies can dump waste in rivers now?)  I had just watched the video of the young North Korean refugee girl talking about how she and her family risked their lives to escape. It was heartbreaking, but a powerful way to humanize the refugee experience and our connections to each other.  Writing "The First 100 Days" helped me give voice to the emotion, fears and frustration that I’ve been feeling.  

Sherry: That video moved me very much too, Colleen. I encourage our members to watch it. And it is safe to say the first 100 days and those that followed have half the world agog in distress and disbelief. The words of your poem went straight to my heart. I worry what the next 100 days will bring. Thank you for sharing this poem. It has great impact.

Let's take a look at Annell's concerns about global warming, whose affects are increasingly being felt world-wide, even as the U.S. government naysayers deny its existence.






THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING


we are told          it is a closed system            the water we have

is all there is  and all there ever will be  we walk in the shadow of this reality

yet our very touch         dirties the water           that we drink   

we speak in whispered tones       the water clear         sparkling



begins as snow in the mountains   tumbles down in spring   we dip our loaded brush

and swish              all of the water turns blue            or orange…or green    

depending on what is in the brush  humans spoil everything   as we watch

we were given a miracle         a garden of eden              perfectly suited

           

and it is possible     there is no other place just like earth/scientists stare into their telescopes

we pin our hopes           on another world           the universe is vast                                                     
search for other planets            a place for us          when all is ruined

rancid              we have spoiled our nest           we need more resources



as if in a trance  we continue to live as if there is no tomorrow/plastic fills the oceans

floats on every ripple     we pump carbon waste into the air      we crack the earth

we can ignite the water      that comes from the tap     but we can no longer drink it

within we know what we have done     yet we deny it    say there is no global warming 

June 11, 2017



Sherry: You know how close to my heart this topic is, Annell, especially as it is happening at unprecedented rates, alarming world scientists, and the global response is far too little, and too slow. And without the U.S. working with other countries, there is little hope for improvement. The planet doesn't have four more years to not address the melting icecaps and the warming seas.

Annell: I began this poem in response to The Sunday Wordle, #303, June 10, 2017.  I love to use the wordles as a way to get into a poem,  I simply follow the words.  The words were: water, ripple, within, walk, ignite, shadow, pin, whisper, touch, trance, rancid, miracle.

I come to the Wordle as an empty vessel.  Have no idea what I am thinking about.  I really allow the words to lead me.  I often like to allow the first word to set the theme of the poem.  What I will be writing about.

I have highlighted the words, and perhaps you can see how each word sets up another idea.  I like to work in this way; I never know where I might go, or the destination when all is said and done.

In this poem I think I am talking about the “shadow side” of our species. Often much is done out of our sight.  We often don’t know.  It is probably past time to learn.  It may be too late?  I hope not.

Water is probably the most precious thing to our species.  We can’t live a healthy life or live very long without clean water.  I can remember when I learned that our system is a closed system and there will be no more water.  I wanted to say in my poem, how easy it is to make water dirty.  I was thinking of washing my paint brushes, and how just a little paint dirties all of the water in the container.  We are casual about water.  I don’t think when I lived on the coast I ever really thought about water, there was “water, water everywhere.”  But since I have come to the west, I have become aware how precious water is.  And if we dirty all the water, there will not be even a drop to drink.

We are told there are children around the world who do not have clean water to drink.

It does seem as humans, we just don’t think.  We spoil everything we touch, without consideration of others, or other species.  Oil companies spoil the water and walk away.

We use "ancient sunlight" to power our cars, our homes and industry, and it is pumped into the atmosphere by the ton.  

I was thinking about how we try to find another perfect place, another planet, that would support life.  And isn’t that silly, we had a perfect place, but we have not held it sacred. 

Then I began to think about the oceans and how we use plastic and casually toss it away, "out of sight, out of mind", and we are told it ends in the oceans.  It is said most sea creatures have plastic particles in them.  It floats on the ocean, and they eat it, we eat them, and we then have plastic particles in us. This cannot be good.  We have fouled our “nest,” and there is a price to pay.

We are told when they frack, they force toxins into the earth, and people can ignite the water from the tap.  This water is not water we can drink.  Some of our leaders in Washington deny what we know. 

Sherry:   We don't deserve another planet, even if such were possible, though it isn't. The plastic problem is a huge one, that also needs to be addressed. When people talk about throwing things away, I recall my friend saying "There is no 'away'". And there isn't.  Thank you, Annell, for adding your voice to this conversation, and reminding us to think about what we have always taken for granted, for it may not be here in such abundance for long.                       

Let's read Laura's poem now, which adds a note of hope to end this feature with, encouraging us to fan the flames of light in darkening times. Lord knows, we need some light. And some hope. And what we need most of all is social justice.






FAN THE FLAMES


Please…
no more changing avatars to country flags
no more flowers and balloons
no more empty mouthings
no more bleeding hearts
no more clichés
no more..
please
no more blood lust
no more denial of evil
no more excuses for terror
no more tolerating intolerance
no more fanning the flames of hate
today is Pentecost  –
pray fan the flames of

love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control


Sherry: Thank you for this poem, Laura. Your words go straight to our hearts. We long for a world of social justice, kindness and peace. May we all fan those flames, in the face of all that is opposite. May we resist, and persist.

Laura: Firstly, so uncertain was I of publishing this personally political piece that I posted it under the WordPress quickie format of an 'aside' rather than the standard blog post. I had considered deleting it shortly after, because it belonged to a particular moment in time - troubled times for London...and Manchester..and Kabul - stretching beyond though to the myriad places of terrorism.

It is a double-edged poem and I use that term cautiously. There is repressed anger, rising resentment, and the bile of hate-filled feelings, tempered by tremendous sadness at such horrors, as well as taking the Christian message by the horns and looking for all those counter-intuitive responses of cheek turning. The day of the London Bridge attack was, after all, Pentecost, hence the title. Fanning the flames of hate or spiritual growth - it is a choice.

This is certainly not a mealy-mouthed poem because, when I give way to personal expression in public, I tend to refute political correctness. Free speech is, after all, freedom to speak and not to mouth the herd view or be muzzled by hegemony. Hence the first half displays an antipathy to the public outpourings as the mass trivia of teddies and balloons etc.  Whilst the second half castigates the perpetrators and then ourselves as both masochistically tolerant of abuse and invokers of its causes.

The format is almost one of a biblical edict - part demand, part pleading. It has a concrete shape resembling the letter K - for killing? Karma? There was no planning - the words fell into place and shape in a few short spontaneous moments.

Sherry: Thank you for your courage in posting it and for giving voice to the universal plea for an end to this madness. We are all getting more political, as what we are seeing around us is not the world we want to live in, or leave behind for our grandchildren. I love that you point out it is a choice, whether we fan the flames of hate or spiritual growth.

Thanks for allowing us to end this feature with a note of hope - that more and more of us will fan those flames of compassion and goodness towards a better world.

We hope you take away something positive and inspiring from these fine poems, my friends. And do come back to see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


23 comments:

  1. Love it when you use the poetry for politics... that is what words are for.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Three talented poets and unique styles and universal voice..loved it thanks all

    ReplyDelete
  3. Collectively, the poets featured have voiced the alarm, concern, disbelief, and embarrassment that have become a daily part of the lives of the average American. We can only pray these days have been an awakening for a nation that has grown to take the privilege of voting all too cavalierly.

    ReplyDelete
  4. All three of these pieces are powerful and moving. They stir the heart and stoke the fires of injustice. As Bjorn, so eloquently put it: that is what words are for. These are important poems. Thank you for sharing them here. Great job on this, poets!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I, too, feel poetry can play an important and effective place in raising awareness, inspiring resistance, venting angst, helping to jog some people out of a dangerous torpor. The situation on this planet is so grave, and humanity is moving far too slowly in response. In B.C., we have 185 active wildfires burning right now - the direct result of climate change/global warming. Thousands evacuated, their homes burning. Domestic livestock people are trying to get moved out - many having to be left behind. Domestic dogs and cats abandoned. Think of the forests burning that will take a century to grow back. The wildlife - wolves, deer, bears, bison, small critters - fleeing in terror - and where to? Same situation in California. Even if we started right now to address climate change, it is very late in the game. And in the US, response to climate change has been stopped. Agh. I must stop, I depress myself. The situation is acute. And we have likely the worst administration possible in power in the US for our situation. I have to hold onto hope. But am not quite sure how we can turn this ship around, at this point. Am glad these poems resonate. I knew they would.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A fine collection for Monday, Sherry.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you Sherry for gathering these fine poets to feature this week on subjects that are close to my heart which is to preserve the planet for future generations with rational and effective policies from governments. Sadly humans are inherently bullies, not only with each other but with flora, fauna and the Earth itself in a foolish hope that once they are controlled all will be well, but which in fact is the complete opposite. Good luck children it is now up to you...there's not much time.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is a timely topic and the four voices in unison speak of an awareness that is the dire need of the hour. Sherry this is a splendid job you've done, as always. And what wonderful eye opening poems! However corporate greed will not let this planet be. So I cannot be optimistic any more.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I feel the same way. For most of my life I was hopeful he transformation of consciousness would occur in time to shift the paradigm. But now I think it is going to take utter catastrophe for humans to learn how to live on the earth, or be unable to live on it at all. It is already happening, with melting at the poles, flooding, wildfires.............sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love these truthful voices, and pray that their words and those of others equally concerned may make some impact. I think we must try, even if we feel the attempt is doomed. To give up would ensure the outcomes we fear. Thank you, Sherry, Colleen, Annell and Laura.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is true, Rosemary. Mother Earth needs every helping hand she can get these days. World-wide.

      Delete
  11. Political poems can be such a challenge. Being factually correct it is to deliver a message that may impact on the whole populace. Background knowledge is of utmost importance and relevance. The end product a measure of maturity. Perfect choice of 3 great poets, Sherry!

    Hank

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sherry, thank you for including my poem with the poems of Colleen and Laura. The poems are couragous by couragous poets. It is the artist that speaks, sees the injustice and speaks again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank YOU, Annell, for your strong poem about an issue close to my heart. We have so many wildfires burning in BC right now, whole towns being evacuated. The cost of cleaning up global warming is going to be far higher than switching to clean energy would be. Sigh. I pull my hair out in frustration. There are wild animals and domestic livestock who will perish in these fires. And people losing their homes.

      Delete
  13. Let me just thank all of you for witnessing the times, for holding your witness under the microscope and then magnifying it 100x, as poetry always will. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow, three strong poems by three strong poets. We need to be writing about these things, and I am glad each of you are. Colleen, I share your feelings about the first 100 days and beyond. So sickeningly unbelievable that so much has changed in so few days. When will it end! Annell, what a strong poem about the environment. We seem to damage it unashamedly and take no care for tomorrow. Laura, we definitely can no longer deny evil. Our world is filled with it. And it seems to be spreading. Sherry what a great feature once again. You choose the best poems and poets to feature. Smiles.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am happy the poems resonate with you, my friends. They show how poems can have an impact and join the conversation which hopefully will inspire change. I so appreciate the three brave poets featured here. Thank you, ladies, for saying yes!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Absolutely love these 3 poets and these poems....it seems I am even feeling a need to express moral outrage in poetry these days....thanks for sharing these Sherry!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I agree with everything that has been said here. Resonated with each poem and thank you Sherry, for this so needed exposure of word, thoughts and emotions,

    Elizabeth

    ReplyDelete
  18. You are most welcome, my friends. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I find myself fighting the urge to write about politics lately, something that I would have never imagined. But, these times seem to be calling us all to more awareness, to more commitment and to search for hope. These three poems, so full of true passion, express what so many of us are feeling. Thanks to these three brave poets for writing so much truth. Thanks to you Sherry, for bringing them together here.

    ReplyDelete
  20. back from a short break with belated thanks to you Sherry for including my poem with Colleen's searing century of days and Annell's clever wordle on the awe/full desecration of our planet. It is painful to contemplate so much these days but to re-quote 'Soylent Green' - climate change is people.
    Great effort from you Sherry as usual in arranging this trilogy

    ReplyDelete
  21. Three voices, the world of Poetry could definitely not do without.
    Thanks Sherry for bringing these three to the forefront here at the pantry.

    Much love...

    ReplyDelete